When the Aston Martin name returned to the Formula One paddock as a constructor at the start of last season, many believed that they would be fighting closer to the front of the grid than they actually were.
But with the new regulation changes and heavy investment in the team, could this be the year Aston Martin really showcase their true potential?
Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel will drive for the team once against this season after bringing his experience to the Silverstone based outfit at the start of last season.
He will be joined by Lance Stroll, who despite being criticised because his father Laurance Stroll, is part-owner of the team, Lance has shown his quality and has already claimed a pole position and three podiums in his career so far.
Vettel joined the team after what appeared to be a bitter exit from Ferrari, with the Italian team opting to sign Carlos Sainz to partner Charles Leclerc for 2021.
He moved to Aston Martin on the back of the team’s incredible 2020 campaign that saw them cause a real stir in the paddock with the ‘Pink Mercedes’ as the team appeared to take heavy inspiration from the title-winning 2019 Mercedes when the team were known as Racing Point.
Stroll joined the team back in 2019 and has enjoyed success with the team after moving from Williams. He has proved his worth in Formula One after making a name for himself in feeder series racing, most notably winning the 2016 F3 European Championship by over 180 points.
At the pre-season shakedown in Barcelona, the team looked strong with Sebastian Vettel in the top six on all three days of running, with Stroll also completing well over 100 laps across the three days.
However, it’s time we throw in the usual caveat that this is only testing and we don’t really know what programmes or plans any of the teams were running and therefore lap times and leader board positions may not be fully reflective of actual pace.
In the official pre-season test in Bahrain Stroll in the top five on the first and second days of running. Vettel also set well over 100 laps and I think the team would consider this to be a strong test.
They look like they will have the pace to be in the points-paying positions this season and I think we might actually see them fighting for the odd podium.
They did go slightly under the radar over both bests and I think this is something that is going to be a good thing for the team, with no major pressure being placed on them.
It will be interesting to see what influence Vettel has had on the team since he moved to Silverstone, and the dividends of that move would be expected to pay out later this season.
This is a very strong driver pairing and is one that can challenge for wins and podiums if they get the chance. They have broken away from living under the shadow of Mercedes that they did in their racing point years and this could be a really exciting year for Aston Martin.